Solid Wood Construction
One of the most exciting developments across the construction landscape is the growth and increased use of engineered timber products and solid wood building solutions such as cross laminated timber (CLT) and glulam. These are recognized as a popular and fashionable way to build strong, sustainable and stable structures plus bring a striking architectural dimension to modern building design.
Due to the low carbon benefits of timber as a sustainable material, many involved in the specification and use of timber including architects, designers, engineers and contractors are looking to use timber across a range of applications – saving time and reducing CO2. Glulam and CLT are commonly made from Spruce or Larch (usually from PEFC-certified sources) and acts as a natural and renewable alternative to steel and concrete.
Created by gluing together thin laminates of timber to produce large strong solid beams and panels, glulam and CLT can be used as vertical or horizontal beams, or can be produced in attractive curves and contribute to some of the finest contemporary parts of the built environment.
Exceptional Structural Performance
CLT is a very stable and structurally strong timber system with little movement post construction and with multi-story capabilities. Large vertical or horizontal beams deliver huge interior spans without supporting columns, with the scope to showcase breathtaking use of space and introduce huge swathes of natural light.
Reduced Risk & Speedy Construction
CLT and glulam are pre-fabricated within a precision factory controlled environment, using accurate data from BIM modeling and CNC processes. Openings can also be pre-cut or routed in the factory for windows, doors or services for quick and easy installation. This means that it is easier to timetable the construction critical path and eliminate site delays. The components are also simple to erect and connect onsite without the need for complicated fixings, drilling or routing. This offsite manufacture delivers improved resource efficiency, less waste and better health and safety.
As a lightweight building material, timber can provide time and cost savings due to reduced foundation work as the structural loads required with CLT are small compared to concrete and steel. A lightweight structure can give an estimated 25% reduction in foundations compared to an equivalent precast concrete structure. Delivery loads are also more efficient as the panels and beams can be packed to a ‘maximum transportable volume’.
Glulam and CLT chars in a constant and controlled manner. CLT can be designed to accommodate substantial fire resistance and unlike steel remains structurally stable when subjected to high temperatures. CLT panels can be produced with fire resistances of 30, 60 and 90 minutes.
Thermal Insulation & Airtightness
The properties of solid wood means that it can make huge contributions to a building’s thermal insulation through the elimination of cold bridging and improved acoustic performance – usually better than Building Regulations with Passivhaus standards of airtightness easily achieved.
Glulam beams have enormous aesthetic appeal to architects. They are available in a wide range of standard sizes but can be made to measure to almost any requirement. Glulam arches and beams deliver exceptional clear spans and vaulted ceilings without any need for ridge beams, supporting pillars and fewer connections, allowing more design flexibility than with traditional timber construction or many alternate building materials. Glulam is also ideally suited to corrosive environments such as swimming pools.
Across the world, the international design community is embracing CLT and glulam to deliver high profile, award winning projects from houses, schools and hotels to restaurants, theatres, supermarkets and swimming pools. It is available as PEFC-certified from a range of suppliers carrying Chain of Custody.
Contact a PEFC-notified certifier in your country for further information about PEFC certification.